The following are notes from Dr. Efraim Zuroff's captivating discussion on his life's work capturing Nazis.
Thanks to the extension of life expectancy, there are still some Nazi Hunters. He prays for the good health of Nazis, he’s the only Jew in the world that wants them healthy. They are almost all in their 90s. They try and still look as weak and frail as possible. The motivation for what Nazi Hunters do:
Nazi Hunters ⅓ detective, ⅓ political lobbyist, ⅓ historian.
He has to be a nudnik - someone who bothers people.
The passage of time in no way diminishes the crime.
He wonders how after the Holocaust, does Genocide still happen. He believes its because the small number of people who were punished for Holocaust crimes. The chances of you joining a group like ISIS, the odds of you getting caught if you are not a big leader in it are very small.
This is very important on Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion. In the western world they have won the fight against Holocaust denial in the mainstream. The Holocaust is the most documented crime in human history. Why would people try and deny the Holocaust took place. It’s because of Anti-Semitism. They criticize Israel unfairly, and only Israel. There is a new wave of Holocaust denial in the Arab and Muslim world. The denial is from the leaders of countries like the former president of Iran. How to deal with Holocaust denials. There are first hand video accounts to disprove this, also documentaries and movies. Some people won’t be convinced no matter what. The goal is to win over the non-crazy ones. Once the majority is convinced, the deniers will go away.
Once the war was over, many countries were liberated into Soviet control. The communist did their own manipulation of the Holocaust. They never acknowledged the Holocaust until the 1980s. They called WWII the Great Patriotic War. They could write their own truth. There was in reality mass collaboration with the Nazis for the Holocaust. When they became independent from the USSR, there first goal was to get into the European Union and NATO. They thought it was going to be important to become friends with Jews, because they believed they had the power to make that happen. The people of these new countries were the people who fought against the Soviet authorities. But what if these “heroes” murdered Jews during the Holocaust? The argument is that superiors told them to do so. There is no case of a Nazi getting killed for not killing someone. This is why this defense was rejected. This argument is allowed anywhere (Canada used to allow it).
Ivan Pemjanjuk - the US can’t try any Nazis in court, because it didn’t happen here and no US victims were hurt. In order to get them in trouble, they had to extradite people or they brought these people on charges of immigration and naturalization. When he was in court he made himself look like he was dying. After each day of court, he would get up and talk with people. You don’t have to be Himmler or Hitler to have responsibility. German prosecution policy… you had to prove that the person who had committed a crime and had done so by racial hate, which is nearly impossible to do. A policy changed and since the death camps were intended to kill people, any person who worked at one is an accessory to murder who could get 15 years. This lasted 30 years for trial. He was sentenced to death in Israel, during the mandatory appeal process, they reversed it and he got 7 years and expelled back to America.
People who committed the crimes must feel guilty is a statement often made. People would think we were brainwashed. He has never experienced a case where a Nazi expressed any remorse or regret.
Accountant of Auschwitz
The procedure of catching them:
He was able to get a list of who was at a Holocaust death camp or the mobile death squads. He found a list of 80 people who were possibly still alive and Germany has tough laws that prevent people from finding out information. He went out to a news station and they helped since the government didn’t. They found 2 people who were at Babi Yar and later a 3rd person. He later found another Einzengruppen member, who spent 65 years in a shooting club, continuing what he did in the war.
His most important case was Dinko Sakić at camp Jasenovac, where 100,000 people died. Most of his victims were Serbs. Most Nazis fled through the rat line to Argentina or to Syria or Egypt. They find Sakic in Argentina. He admits it is him. He says the problem is that the people at the camp deserved to be there, but the problem was that they didn’t finish the job. He said I would do it again the same way and was proud of what he did. The question is where should this person be put on trial. They wanted to try him in Croatia for a lesson, but the leader of the country was a Holocaust denier. He was tried for mass murder (not genocide).
One day a guy stops him and says “thank you”. One of the important incidents was when there was a role call. Sakic called people out of the line to be hung. One guy says it’s against his faith to be hung and Sakic shot him on the spot. This was the guy’s brother.
How to catch them:
One day he gets an email from someone in Scotland who was at a party with someone bragging about him being involved in Auschwitz. The email said he wants to shut him up. The guy they find out is involved with Auschwitz. He tells the paper to make a post about Hungarians in Scotland, since they knew the guy was Hungarian. The guy has the interviewer meet at his house and there a statue he made and it says his real name, Istvan Bujdosoin, and German rank. This leads to another person he knew, Sandor Kepiro who was his boss.
More information. Sandor Kepiro
About Matthew Cottone
Experience the World! This is my creed I bring to my classroom and my life. I'm a World Studies teacher at Van Hoosen Middle School and I have a passion for learning and experiencing the world.